Ayurvedic Massage Therapy in Kerala – Part 3

Day 7 brings a new treat. A paste moat is made on my back and this is filled with warm medicated oil. This is to treat lower back pain. To be truthful, I never feel like I have pain that disables me though sometimes I have to propel myself forward, head first, and bum out. Anyway, that is enough to warrant this treatment which is really quite pleasant. I have looked in the clinic catalogue and there is a picture of a woman with such a set up around her eyes. It looks suspiciously like her eyes are afloat with oil. The doctor tells me that this is a treatment for cataracts.

Already I am reaping the benefits of my treatment. Not only am I feeling supple, but my back feels terrific and my mum tells me I have stopped snoring. And let us not forget the missing four kilos!

Day 8 and after the usual treatment I have to sniff some medicated oils and then the masseuse (who delivers all the treatments) tells me she is going to clean my ears. I am expecting an ear candle but instead some herbs are heated in a coconut shell. A bent metal pipe is inserted in a hole at the top of the shell and warm smoke blows out the pipe and into my ears. How pleasant! She then fans me with a tea towel dipped in hot herbal oil.

It seems that no matter how much I wash myself, I can never completely remove the pervasive yellow colour of oils and clays. After each treatment the bath water is a thick cloudy yellow. Also my underclothes are all stained yellow due to skin contact. It’s not the place to be wearing your sexy lingerie.

I notice that I have now lost my normally ravenous appetite. I am quite happy with two meals a day. My mind is also the most relaxed it has been for years. I am actually quite happy to do nothing all day – a first for me!

There are a couple of problems here – despite the fact that it is winter it gets very hot in the middle of the day and therefore a bit uncomfortable to be walking around. Also public transport does not run to the hotel and taxis or auto rickshaws cost a bomb for foreigners. Every trip seems to wind up costing in the vicinity of $40 just for the transport, and this is a definite deterrent to leaving the hotel.

So I am quite happy to sit by the pool or watch cable tellie. There are about four English channels – Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and two movie channels. It is quite obvious what Indians find entertaining – on 90% of the remaining Indian channels the programming is singing and dancing. There are channels that show dancing all the time and the rest have a diet of talent shows or Bollywood movies.

One thing I find very curious is that in 100% of commercials the Indians all have the palest of skins. This contrasts strongly with the people I see in the streets who all have very dark skins. Maybe the actors are sourced from a part of India where people are all pale. Maybe the actors are airbrushed! Nevertheless, does this all mean that Indians will not buy products endorsed by their darker skinned The Lost Book of Herbal brothers and sisters?

I celebrate my good health by visiting a beautician who is in residence in a cubicle in the alleyway behind the hotel. I book in for a fruit facial. It costs about 750 rupees or $19. In the course of an hour, layer upon layer of fruit preparations are massaged into my face, leaving it glowing and wonderfully smooth. She notices my unruly eyebrows and asks if I would like a trim. Oh well, why not? I expect her to pull out the tweezers but instead she takes out a roll of cotton thread. Holding one end between her teeth she uses the thread like a pair of scissors. Snip, snip – no messy hair escapes her attention. With extreme dexterity she wields her cotton, snipping away at errant hairs and soon I have two finely sculptured eyebrows.

Meanwhile, back at the clinic, my treatment has now progressed to oil baths and enemas. Also, at the end of each treatment I am now given a drink of medicated ghee in hot water.

After my massage the mattress on the table is whipped off to reveal a hollow into which I climb and buckets of warm medicated oil are sloshed over me. This is an oil bath. When I roll over so that she can pour oil over my front, I am terrified that I am going to shoot off the bed like a pea escaping from its pod. I hold on for dear life. Fully greased, I am now ready for my herbal enema. The mini enemas are not too bad and actually do not have much of an effect on me at all. But then I am given the biggie! The super enema is quite unpleasant but it is good for losing another kilo I guess.

I am told the story of the massages, oil and the enemas. The theory is that the massages, oil baths, bashings with hot leaves and the medicated clay massages all serve to draw toxins out of the tissues and into the bowels. These toxins are then flushed out by means of the enemas and herbal drinks.

So after two weeks the treatment finishes. My mother has given up three days before her graduation. Her intolerance to chillis and the fact that unlike myself, she has found the enemas to be totally purgative and has been running to the toilet day and night, have taken their toll. However, she ought to be very impressed because her legs which are always quite swollen with fluid, are now shapely and quite deflated.

I have in all lost five kilos and my blood pressure has stabilized to a nice 120/80 which pleases me greatly. I am sure I would have lost more weight if I could have stayed off those yummy breads, teas and vegetable dishes cooked in coconut oil. I cannot guess my cholesterol level but I feel supple and flexible. I notice that the nasty gum infection that has plagued me for two months prior to my trip has now gone. Aches and pains have disappeared and I am sleeping extremely well.

Would I go again? Most definitely! All in all, it was not an overly expensive proposition and in two weeks I have lost a sizeable bit of weight and have health benefits to boot.

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